22 Oct 2020

Mazmur 25, Mazmur Jenewa

Shortly after I posted the photographs of the Indonesian Genevan Psalter this morning, someone alerted me to the video below:

Mazmur: Bahasa Indonesia

I would love to obtain a copy of this Indonesian metrical psalter. Note that the melody line is rendered in numbers, which are not difficult to figure out, rather than in conventional western musical notation. For those who love the Genevan Psalter, the tune for Psalm 89 will already be familiar.

This composite photograph was originally posted in 2018 by Frank Ezinga on Facebook.

19 Oct 2020

Another page added

I have now added a fourth page to my Genevan Psalter pages. This contains a LORD'S DAY LITURGY for Reformed Churches, slightly modified from my former website. From the introductory rubrics:

The following liturgy for the Lord's Day is adapted from the forms prescribed by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, and draws on a number of other sources, including the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services. This particular liturgy is intended to demonstrate the various uses of the Psalms, especially the Genevan Psalms, in the course of worship. In accordance with the wishes of John Calvin and the near universal practice of the church catholic in the first millennium, the ordinary weekly Lord's Day liturgy comprises both word and sacrament.

The versified Psalm texts are my own, as indicated at the bottom of the page.

12 Oct 2020

Genevan Psalter pages revised and restored

This is to let readers know that I have restored three pages from my former Genevan Psalter website, which can be found at the top of the right-hand column on this page. These include my introductory essay, bibliography, and selected annotated discography. I may add more pages, if I think it appropriate. What I have not brought back is my own project to set the Psalms to verse and to arrange their proper Genevan melodies.

5 Oct 2020

Gomółka - Nieście chwałę... Psalm 29

A performance of Psalm 29 from Kochanowski and Gomółka, Psałterz Dawidów, performed by Ars Nova, under the direction of Jacek Urbaniak, with Anna Mikołajczyk as soprano soloist.

29 Sep 2020

Sweelinck: Psalm 150

Among Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's exquisite arrangements of the Genevan Psalms is the final one, Psalm 150, performed here by the Netherlands Chamber Choir.

9 Sep 2020

Timeless: Psalm 125

Here is a recently posted performance of Psalm 125 from the Timeless Psalter. Words and music by Marva L. Hughes. Performed by Vocal Tapestry.

26 Aug 2020

Kodály cantors curtailing COVID

Among the many choirs performing on Zoom-like platforms during the current pandemic is this one from Hungary singing Zoltán Kodály's memorable arrangement of Genevan Psalm 114. The choir is from the University of Pécs, Faculty of Arts, under the direction of Dr. Péter Hoppál. 


12 Aug 2020

Psałterz Poznański: Psalm 13

Here is the latest contribution from Psałterz Poznański: Psalm 13, sung to the Genevan tune. There are no introductory notes to translate, but this psalm puts into words what many of us are feeling right now during this protracted pandemic:

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

The psalmist does not allow himself to remain on this note, wallowing in self-pity, but closes by expressing confidence in God's promises, something that may have taken some effort on his part:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

13 Jul 2020

Cantus Christi: 2020

Last month I received in the mail a copy of Cantus Christi 2020, the latest edition of a psalter and hymnal produced by Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. The reason I was sent this is because I provided the music for their metrical text of Psalm 137. Whether it is appropriate to review a collection to which one has contributed I will leave the reader to decide. But given that I was in no way connected with the planning and editorial process, I believe I am permitted to post my impressions of the volume as a whole.

In that spirit I will indicate that this is a remarkable achievement drawing on the liturgical riches of the larger Christian tradition as well as on the gifts of the living contributors. That it was produced, not by a denomination, but by a single congregation is all the more impressive, although this makes for certain deficiencies, two of which I shall mention below. I myself worshipped at Christ Church during my visit to New Saint Andrew's College in late 2018, so I was able to make a brief acquaintance with the confessional and liturgical ethos of the congregation, which is part of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches, a quite new denomination that is unusual for not having broken off from another larger Reformed denomination in the past.

23 May 2020

Psałterz Poznański: Psalm 67

They're at it again. Psałterz Poznański has now posted a lovely performance of Psalm 67. Here are the introductory remarks translated by google into English:

This beautiful Davidic psalm is at the same time thanksgiving (for the crops of the earth and other his gifts), a request for His blessing (in particular, that his ways would be known all over the Earth) and a call addressed to all nations to worship God. We invite you to listen to and sing Psalm 67 together.

The Polish lyrics and guitar chords can be found here.

17 May 2020

Sweelinck's Psalm 96

I never tire of listening to performances of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's exquisite arrangement of Genevan Psalm 96. Not everyone does a good job of it, but Dennis Keene and the Voices of Ascension get it right.

I've not heard all of Sweelinck's arrangements of the Psalms, so I cannot say whether every one is as beautiful as this. At some point I would like to get my hands on Het Sweelinck Monument, which includes all 150 of his psalm arrangements. When and if I do, I will be sure to review it here.

14 May 2020

Central Presbyterian Church Virtual Choir singing from Psalm 19

During the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, many churches have been having online worship services and virtual choirs. Here is our church's virtual choir singing the closing verse of Psalm 19 to a setting composed by our choir director, Roger Bergs:

29 Nov 2019

Jubilee Octet

Youtube and social media have probably done more to disseminate knowledge of the Genevan Psalter than all the printed volumes over the past four and a half centuries. Here is a small choral ensemble known as the Jubilee Octet singing several of the Psalms. These were posted earlier in November, so this appears to be a quite new venture.

There are more on their YouTube channel.

16 Oct 2019

We Praise Thee, O God: a literary analysis of the Te Deum

A few weeks ago I began volunteering at a local food bank. In between conversing with clients and manning a literature table for the chaplain, I discovered there is time for other things. As I had neglected to bring anything to read, I decided to undertake a literary analysis of the ancient Te Deum, a 4th-century Latin hymn traditionally sung on great occasions of thanksgiving. As I typically pray this during my daily prayer regimen, I mostly know it by heart. Variously ascribed to Sts. Ambrose and Augustine and to Nicetas of Remesiana, its authorship is otherwise unknown.

Now I freely admit that, as an academic political scientist, I am by no means an expert in literary analysis beyond the basics. However, I have noticed a few things about the Te Deum that I thought worth passing along.

15 Aug 2019

Genevan Psalter website taken down

This is to alert readers of this blog that my Genevan Psalter website has been taken down from the server of my former employer. I am not altogether certain that I will repost it elsewhere. I may try to see whether I can get the collection published in printed form at some point. For now I will keep this blog in place, but it will now be devoted to posting articles and videos related to the Genevan and other metrical psalters.

11 Jun 2019

Psalm videos for June

Here are some more psalm videos I've discovered recently:

Psalm 97:

Psalm 50:

Psalm 68, or the Huguenot "fight song":

5 Apr 2019

David's Psalter: Two more recordings

I have recently discovered and purchased two more recordings of the Polish David's Psalter of Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584) and Mikołaj Gomółka (c. 1535–after 1591). The first is Mikołaj Gomółka Melodie na Psałterz Polski Opera Omnia, recorded in Kraków in 2016. Here is a sample, Psalm 122:

The second is Audite Gentes! Psalms of the Golden Age, featuring the solo voice of Paulina Ceremużyńska, singing to guitar and percussion accompaniment. This was released in 2015. Here is Psalm 1:

Both recordings are available from iTunes, amazon.com and similar sources.

Incidentally, last sunday afternoon, the Central Presbyterian Church Choir, in which my daughter and I sing, led a festival of Psalms. Among the pieces we sang were two from David's Psalter, Psalms 1 and 29, using my texts. As far as I know, the event was not recorded. However, we will be singing Psalm 29 again on sunday morning, and a recording may be live streamed on youtube. If so, I will link to it on this blog.

4 Jan 2019

Psalm 100 in Hungarian

Here is a compelling arrangement and performance of Genevan Psalm 100 according to the text of Albert Szenci Molnár (1574-1634). I had not come across this particular arrangement of the tune, and the poster doesn't tell who the composer is. Performed by the Psalterium Hungaricum Choir conducted by Katalin Györffy, with Bernadett Szekér on the piano, it was recorded on 4 November 2018 at the Fasori Reformed Church in Budapest.

Incidentally, the video incorrectly numbers the Psalm as 90.

3 Jan 2019

The Illuminated Book of Psalms

My beloved wife has the wonderful habit of giving me Christmas gifts related to the biblical Psalter. Last year she gave me a copy of the 1650 Scottish Psalter printed in 1788. This year she presented me with a beautifully constructed volume, titled The Illuminated Book of Psalms: The Illustrated Text of All 150 Prayers and Hymns. It contains the Psalms from the King James Version of the Bible in a most attractive format. Although the texts are printed in a modern font, the initial letter of each psalm is large and stylized. Interspersed amongst the texts are images from a variety of mediaeval European psalters and books of hours, and even some Jewish and Islamic manuscripts. The overall aesthetic effect is definitely appealing, particularly to someone who already loves mediaeval art.

The books of hours were treasured volumes owned largely by nobles at a time before the invention of the printing press, when books were lovingly hand-written and not widely available to a broader—and mostly illiterate—public. We tend to associate the regimen of daily prayer with the monasteries, but non-monastic nobles, who could more easily afford them, prayed the Liturgy of the Hours in some fashion with the aid of such books. As we might expect, these were in Latin, the liturgical language of the western church. Accordingly, most of the images include at least a portion of the Latin text of the relevant psalm.

Unfortunately, artists, philologists and biblical scholars are not known for collaborating on projects, and this points to one of the defects of this volume. The editors seem unaware that the numbering of the Psalms differs through most of the collection between the Hebrew and the Septuagint/Latin Vulgate. Furthermore, the editors appear not to be familiar with Latin. This means that some of the images are correctly identified as a particular psalm according to the LXX/Vulgate numbering, but they are juxtaposed with the printed text according to the Hebrew numbering. At least one fragment is entirely misidentified (Psalm 81 becomes 84 on p. 142), an error that could have been prevented if it had been proofread by someone with knowledge of both the Bible and of Latin. The juxtaposition of an Islamic manuscript with Psalm 90 goes unexplained, and one senses that aesthetic considerations outweighed actual relevance in this case.

Nevertheless, despite the flaws, the volume is beautiful in virtually every respect as a work of art, and it could even function as a prayer book for the believer accustomed to Jacobean English. An attached red bookmark will aid in this use. Its size measures 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches and weighs 12.6 ounces, making it easily portable.

One last thing to note is that there appear to be slightly different editions of this title on the market, such as this and this, sold respectively in Canada and the United Kingdom. Whether they use the same images I cannot say without seeing the other volumes, but they seem to represent the same high quality that went into my copy.